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Alea Iacta Est (IC)

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00:01 Sunday, January 31st, 2075 - Over the UCAS / Sioux Nation border

You're strapped into an Ares Dakota transport plane. The weather is nasty and the ride is violent. In a few minutes, the rear door will open and you'll voluntarily run out the ass-end of a perfectly good airplane. You will HALO jump across the UCAS border, the storm and your small profiles concealing your infiltration. In theory, you won't freeze to death in midair. In theory, communism works.

You go over the mission briefing one more time in your head.

"As you know, UCAS President Angela Colloton was re-elected to a third term last November at the head of the Republican ticket. She was previously a Major General in the UCAS Army, and is a competent military commander, capable of both strategic and tactical decision making.

"Many Republicans still feel the UCAS should reclaim everything that once belonged to the C and A portions of their name. This “re-expansionist” idea is especially popular around the borders where citizens are constantly reminded of what was once theirs. President Colloton won re-election in part due to her success in rebuilding the UCAS military.

"A lot of promises were made during the campaign, but for the most part we attributed it to election-year saber-rattling. This has reliably happened every four years for the last sixty years.

"This year it might not be bluster. After winning the election, Colloton and her allies in Congress greenlit a new prototype wash-phase-array radar installation near the Sioux border. The UCAS says it is merely experimental, but we don't like the fact that the installation has firetrack capabilities: it is designed to give precise terminal guidance to various nasty forms of munitions. It can also track rounds lobbed in its direction and coordinate immediate counterbattery fire before the first egg lands."

An AR map of the UCAS pops up. It zooms in on St. Francis, Kansas. In the very northwestern corner of the state, it is less than 20 klicks from the Sioux border. Satellite imagery shows a patch of broken ground several klicks to the west of town surrounded by snowy farm fields. Radar arrays are sprouting up out of the broken ground like mushrooms after a rainstorm.

"What's even more remarkable is that construction begun shortly after Colloton approved it. Most defense budget decisions are actually forecast two years out, which either means that this has been in the works for multiple years or that the President is reallocating resources on the fly. The Office of Military Intelligence assures us that this has not been in any UCAS budget - public or otherwise - which implies that the UCAS is intentionally introducing an element of randomness and chaos to keep us unsettled. The speed at which they are progressing suggests they are using powerful nanoforges and terraforming magics."

The imagery changes to news footage of a man in a suit touring the construction. It looks like PR.

"This is Senator Paul Hollensfeld of Kansas, another Republican who voted for this. Like Colloton, he was re-elected last November on a platform of strengthening the border, pointing to Colloton’s newly rebuilt military as a shining example. Since Kansas state borders on two different foreign powers, his constituents eat it up. Here he is, touring the installation. You might think that broadcasting video footage of your experimental radar array would be tactically unsound, but then you wouldn't be thinking like a Senator. Evidently this was too good to pass up, a campaign promise already being fulfilled."

The video shows Senator Hollensfeld pausing for a moment to deliver some impromptu comments to the cameras. "Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. But how can there be justice when our homes and hearths are in the hands of foreigners? The dead remember, and will hold us accountable. I can no longer sit back and allow Indian infiltration, Indian indoctrination, Indian subversion and the international Indian conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. I say to our enemies: 'Your day is over.' We will not negotiate, we will not tolerate, and we will no longer be afraid. It is your turn to be afraid. This cutting-edge facility will make our homes safe once again for mom, maple syrup, and cinnamon toast. God bless the UCAS!"

There is some confused applause from the assembled soldiers and dignitaries as the Senator waves to the crowd. The briefing resumes.

"The best way to silence a bully is to punch them in the mouth. The Wildcats will deliver that blow.

"Your mission will be to infiltrate the base and place charges within. We will be using a blizzard blowing out of Algonkian-Manitou Council to mask your insertion, which will be done via a HALO jump in wingsuits. You will jump from a standard reconnaissance flight in Sioux Nation airspace and travel approximately 14 kilometers to the target. Captain Wapun will conjure an air spirit to mask your descent and to ensure your safety from the storm. Once you reach the ground, you will be on your own.

"As the facility is not yet operational, resistance is expected to be minimal. Given the storm, external defenses will be technological in nature. Expect sensors and drones, especially ground-based drones. Spirits and paracritters are a possibility as well. Current thermographic surveillance suggests that metahuman opposition will largely be indoors.

"In the best tradition of counting coup, your orders are to remain non-lethal to the greatest extent possible. An enemy that knows you allowed them to live will respect us and fear us more than survivors wishing to avenge their fallen friends. Let them hate, so long as they fear.

"Exfil will be on foot or via commandeered vehicles. We will be staffing the Highway 36 and State Route 27 border crossings all night if you need it; just let us know you're coming."

Jayde Moon:
Chante went over the OPORD again.  She didn't want to miss anything.  It seemed straightforward enough.  Get in, knock shit down, get out.  More to the point was Appendix B, OMI's IPB.  The area was relatively flat, though just around the site were trees that might provide some cover.  The weather was going to be their friend for this one.

She checked over their imagery of the site.

Two 'dishes' made up the radar, one for transmitting and one for receiving, roughly 300 meters apart.  The set-up itself wasn't anything new, but it required that they ensure that both parts of the system went down, preferably simultaneously.  Buildings nearby housed both construction crews as well as UCAS Soldiers assigned to guard the location.  If they stayed inside, then it would be easy.  The team could approach from the north through the treeline and  retreat the same way.  Just a matter of neutralizing the threat posed by any static or mechanical defenses.  Chante didn't think Ité would have any issues spoofing their defenses to ensure quiet infiltration.  That was their biggest risk, moving this way.

If the team could just move quietly enough through the woodline, this mission would be done and they could be home before the next Arrows match against the Screamers.

Pap Renvela:
Sgt  Ité YeyΆ studied the Captain out of the corner of his eye. In the old days,  the roles of men and women were clearly defined. While the men were expected to provide for and defend the family by hunting and making war, the women were the matriarchs, ruling the family life and the domestic life of the tepee.  There were still some who felt women had no place in a war party. Defending the village if needed, yes, but not in a war party.  Of course, there were those who thought every troll was a big dumb oaf.  And Ité YeyΆ was no big dumb oaf. While both were Lakota, she was of the Hunka Papa band and he from Sans Arcs band, so he had never met  her prior to joining the unit. This would be their first active mission together.

The scuttle butt around cap was that she was descended from Tatanka Iyotake (the great Medicine Man, Sitting Bull).  Ité YeyΆ  had not asked her for he was ashamed that his ancestor was one of the Indian Police sent to arrest Sitting Bull when he was skilled. Still, he was curious if she is as strong in Wakȟáŋ Tȟáŋka as he was.

There ain't no point in wondering- she is or she isn't. What we do know is she got a bunch of commendations. The Wildcats aren't the UCAS National Guard- you don't get commendations on a whim; you earn them. Face it you big dummy, you're wondering about her to keep you fro thinking about the jump. Whose bright idea was it to have a big ol' troll like me jump out with just a wingsuit between me and splat. Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm the one that thought the HQ's cyber-warfare platoon wasn't exciting enough. Silly me. At least I'll have a chance to blow up things. Assuming I don't go splat. 

 Ité YeyΆ  closes his eyes, and begins listening in AR to the music of Indigenous- a Nakota rock band from the previous century. Nothing like turn of the century rock to clear the mind.

Danyes looked up from the briefing, frowning. The job was simple enough and if all went well he should have little to do beyond bring another knife and rifle. Of course, that was optimistic in the extreme. At the least he expected to have to deal with the effects of the HALO insertion, frostbite, altitude sickness, recompression or what have you. Perhaps impact injuries from a botched landing. He carried out his last minute checks on his gear and himself, it would be embarrassing if the first casualty was himself.

He looked at the captain. Pretty enough and certainly personable but not the sharpest scalpel in the kit. He gave her a thumbs up and smile but thought he'd pass. A veteran of course, which helped a bit.

The troll came across as a dumb lump, which most trolls did well at. A meat hammer. But, Danyes wasn't so sure. He might look stupid but his specialty didn't suggest it and Daniel thought he looked introspective. He could appreciate that. Of course, it could have been nerves at the insertion or just wind. It was hard to tell.

Dan spoke up on the close circuit com channel.

"Just a quick reminder to make sure you've all taken your shots and checked your kit. I know we've all heard it before but I'll say it again. If anyone has any medical concerns I'm here to help. Other than that let's blow these idiots up."

He looks around to see how his reminder has been taken and briefly went over their medical records in his head.

Shiriki spit on his thumb and polished his "Make an angel of Colloton '69" pin while the pipsqueak colonel gave a rundown of the OPORD.  It wasn't that Howling Bear was inept or anything like that.  Quite the opposite in fact.  He was thorough, and by the book, but in true brass fashion, he spent about twice the time detailing the political motivations for the operation over the how to's of the operation itself.  Who ya trying to convince? Shiriki thought while doodling over-sized phalluses across his personal copy of the map, detailing their infil route.  any excuse is a good enough one for me to go fraggin' up the anglos.

When Howling Bear finally got to the specifics of their jump, Shiriki started in on the math, opening a few spare tabs in his AR display, and running some simulations based on his RCC programming.  Strange to think that when Shiriki was growing up, wingsuit jumpers would be lucky to cover half of the 14km to their drop site, but now they'd have to be careful not to overshoot it, especially if the expected headwinds were going to be as strong as promised.  How did we ever do things before the wireless matrix, he wonders absently, closing down a few tabs.

The bit about commandeering vehicles catches his attention, and he's back with the group while Howling Bear tells them that they're basically on their own for getting home.  Maybe they'll have a Dodge Goliath or something out there to drive back home in.  Or a VTOL.  One thing he had to give the anglos, they had good tech. 

Captain Wapun stayed largely silent during the briefing, and Shiriki did his best to keep his tongue firmly in place and do likewise.  He liked his new CO, and hoped to make a good impression.  The fact that she was awakened, and confident, did a lot, and she ended up reminding him a lot more of his mother than of his particular inadequacy when it came to magic.  Still, kinda weird to have a mommy complex toward someone who wasn't even alive when he enlisted.

But then Howling Bear had to go and mention paracritters, and Shiriki's hoop clenched up like he'd taken a pneumatic drill to it, and when the call came for questions it was all he could to to chew on his lip while he flipped through tabs on barhests and hell hounds, and basilisks, and that wasn't even considering techno-critters and all the nasty stuff they could do. 

In fact, later, firmly strapped into his seat in the Ares Dakota, Shiriki is still contemplating all the nasty things a barghest could do to his immobile body while he's hot simming his roto-drone, and trying to take his mind off of that inevitable fate by constantly inundating their pilot with suggestions on their course and drop point. 

<<@Shirki [Froggy 1] We will not be deviating from the established flight plan.>>

<<@Froggy 1 [Shiriki] Look at the front map.  You can take 27 seconds off our drop time by holding out for another 10km to the east.>>
<<Attachment: SNWeather.currentconditions.trd>>

Ah, fraggit.  This is what's wrong with this post-Crash2.0 generation to begin with.  No initiative.


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